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Saturday's big races have previously been a bit of a benefit for the unstoppable team of trainer Martin Pipe, jockey Timmy Murphy and owner David Johnson. It is no surprise then to see the dynamic trio's Our Vic at the top of the betting for Saturday's Cheltenham feature, the Bonusprint.com Gold Cup.
Our Vic has a mighty reputation and was strongly fancied for the Paddy Power at this course a month ago before missing out with a minor injury. It is a measure of the resources of Pipe and Johnson that supposed stable second-string Celestial Gold won that race and the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup.
The performance of horses such as Celestial Gold has many wise judges believing that last year's best novices are well handicapped. Our Vic fits the bill, but strictly on the form book
Thisthatandtother has more firepower. Our Vic made several jumping mistakes in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase last season. The pace of this race will be stronger still and even a small blunder could make the difference between success and failure.
Thisthatandtother was not exactly foot perfect when second in the Paddy Power, but traffic problems rather than jumping errors were more of an issue. The first and fourth in the Paddy Power, Celestial Gold and Ollie Magern, went on to beat a decent field in the Hennessy, so the form looks solid. In addition, there were concerns before the Paddy Power that Thisthatandtother would not stay, so he was ridden a little tenderly. A more forceful ride may help him.
The best each-way alternative may be Scots Grey. Nicky Henderson's yard has won this race the last two terms and this nine year old has reportedly blossomed in the summer break after a horrific fall in the Topham. Harchibald's awesome performance in the "Fighting Fifth" at Newcastle suggests Irish hurdlers hold a nap hand this term. In the Totesport Bula Hurdle, Back In Front can confirm Celtic superiority over the best of British, Rooster Booster and Inglis Drever. Cheltenham selections: 2:40 Thisthatandtother (win) 3:15 Back In Front (win)